Recital celebrates 200th anniversary of Christian Dieffenbach Pipe Organ
Event features two descendants of organ builder Larry Dieffenbach and Adam Dieffenbach
A benefit organ recital was held on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 3 p. m. at Altalaha Lutheran Church, Godfrey Street, Rehrersburg.
This year’s recital celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Christian Dieffenbach Pipe Organ that was built for Altalaha and dedicated there in November 1817, as well as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Christian Dieffenbach was the second of four generations of Dieffenbach pipe organ builders in Berks County. The organs were built in the nearby town of Bethel from approximately 1780 to 1900.
This year’s event continued the community efforts to raise funds to repair and maintain Dieffenbach organs located in four Berks County churches and the Berks History Center. The recital featured two descendants of the organ builder, Larry Dieffenbach and Adam Dieffenbach, as well as some special guests.
Larry Dieffenbach is the great- great- great- greatgrandson of the organ builder, Christian Dieffenbach. He began piano studies at age 7 in his hometown of Merrillville, Indiana. At 16 he made his orchestral debut under the baton of New York conductor Broch Macelherin. He completed his undergraduate studies at Olivet Nazarene University graduating with magna cum laude honors and inclusion in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. While at Olivet, Larry was active as an accompanist for numerous ensembles and solo recitals. He performed at President Carter’s inauguration festivities during his freshman year. In 1982, Larry pursued graduate studies at The University of Colorado in Boulder. Larry moved to Geneva, Illinois in 1984 to become the Educational Director at Cordogan’s Pianoland. Since living in Geneva, he has been the Musical Director of Lincoln Opera, accompanist for many soloists and ensembles including the St. Charles Singers, the Elgin Arts Chorale, and the St. Charles Art & Music Festival. He founded and directed the International Piano Competition for the festival. He has served as organist for Geneva United Methodist Church and Baker Memorial Church in St. Charles. He was the past sub- dean and dean of the Fox Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Currently, Larry teaches privately in his Geneva home, teaches Kindermusik in St. Charles, is a part- time instructor at Elgin Community College, and serves as the Music Director of the American Grands concert. He is the Music Director at the Little Home Church by the Wayside located in Wayne. Larry has co- authored a new book/ music curriculum called What if we…?” The Quest and Questions of Leonardo and Athena. In 2014 Larry was awarded the Orrin G. Thompson Teaching Excellence Award at Elgin Community College.
Adam Dief f enbach, great- great- great- greatgreat- grandson of the organ builder, is no stranger to these recitals. Adam, owner of Emery Brothers, Pipe Organ Tuning, Maintenance and Restoration, has been the recitalist at the first three benefit recitals and is the President of the Dieffenbach Organ Preservation Society.
The first three benefit recitals and donations throughout the years have helped to raise more than $ 7,500. Funds are equally distributed to the five public locations in Berks County, Pennsylvania, that have Dieffenbach organs: Altalaha Lutheran Church, Rehrersburg; Berks History Center, Reading; Friedens Church, Shartlesville; Salem Reformed Church, Bethel; Zion St. John Reed’s Lutheran Church, Stouchsburg.
For those who could not attend the previous recitals or would just like to relive the memories, DVDs of the previous recitals are available for a minimum donation of $ 15 for each DVD. New this year are DVDs of last year’s recital at Zion St. John Reed’s Lutheran Church. Also available are handmade ornaments featuring the five public Dieffenbach organs located in Berks County, as well as the Christian Dieffenbach organ built in 1808 for Zion Lutheran and Reformed Church, Orwigsburg, which is now located in the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota. A $ 5 donation is requested for each ornament.
The Dieffenbach Organ Preservation Society can accept tax deductible contributions as a 501( c)( 3) organization. Donations should be made payable to the Dieffenbach Organ Preservation Society and mailed to PO Box 186, Bernville, PA 19506. If you are interested in the DVDs, ornaments, would like to become a member of the Dieffenbach Organ Preservation Society, or have any other questions, contact Carol Dieffenbach Kantner at 610- 468- 9736 or email dieffenbachorgans5@ gmail. com.